Advice by John Tomlinson – Two-time Junior Track National Champion

Just a few things I have come across over the years that I figured I would quickly share:

1. Always carry a spare derailleur hanger with you when you travel, or go to a race! 

It is a piece of your bike that is designed to break off if unnecessary stress is put onto it, and can ruin your day as usually they are specific from bike to bike and not an easy purchase at most bike shops. If you have one with you, it can be a 3 minute fix, no problem. Either call a dealer shop of your bike and ask to order it, or go here: and search for your make and model. I have had a teammate crash in his first race of the day, change his bent hanger, and race the p1/2 later that day no problem. When you bend or break one, you will need to order a new one anyhow, so might as well plan ahead!

2. Race bag spares. 

May be smart to throw a spare set of your preferred cleats into your race bag incase you break a set at a race. Also, a spare chain, and set of cables could be a smart as well as anything on your bike that is proprietary (seat post collar, bolts, anything). Just a few easy things you can keep in your race bag that could save your race when you are in the middle of no where USA at 7am in the morning.

3. Saddle bags.

It is good practice to have a stocked saddle bag (not a huge one!) if you are training a lot, and especially if you are training alone.

I always carry:

      • 2 Tubes
      • 2 CO2’s
      • CO2 Gun head
      • Tire Lever
      • $20 emergency
      • $1 or cliff bar wrapper to boot a tire, and
      • some super stick patches that will patch a tube and get me home.          (If I am riding deep carbon clinchers, I might bring a valve extender, just     in case)

These things can keep you rolling after a small mechanical instead of ruining your day and making you call someone. Again, not a lunch box saddle bag, just one big enough to jam all that in there.

4. Below 65 degrees? Wear knee coverings and arm coverings!

I doesn’t matter if they are knee warmers, leg warmers, or tights (Embro does not count). You can really hurt your joint/tendons  if you ride in the cold with them exposed.  There is a lot of movement and not a lot of fat/blood flow to help protect them. Be sure you own at the very least knee warmers and arm warmers.

5. Mark your saddle height with a piece of electrical tape.

It’s easy. Put a piece of tape just above the seat collar leaving a 3mm window. If the post slips, that little window will close and you will know to fix the height. And if you are jamming your bike in a car and have to take the post out, you will know where to put it back.

That is it for now. By no means do you have to follow any of this, but take them into consideration!

About John Tomlinson

John Tomlinson grew up in downtown Chicago, IL and went to school on the South Side of the city. After riding his mountain bike around Chicago city parks all his life, he upgraded to a road bike and began racing at age thirteen. John quickly excelled, winning two Junior Track National Championships in the scratch race (2009) and points race (2010), which qualified him to represent the USA at Junior Track World Championships in Montichiari, Italy. John is now a freshman at USC.  He races with the Trojan Cycling Team while at school, and with Nova IsCorp Elite Cycling Team out of Milwaukee, WI when he is back home in the Midwest for the summer.


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